Tag Archive for: smoking

Understand Lung Cancer

By Olivia Wong, DO Family Medicine Resident PGY-1

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men and women. About 218,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and sadly about 142,000 people die from the disease each year.

The Facts About Lung Cancer

Risk Factors:

  • Smoking is the most common cause (Approximately 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer)
  • Secondhand smoke, family history of lung cancers, history of breast or chest radiation therapy
  • Exposures to: radon, soot, tar, asbestos, nickel, chromium, arsenic

Lung Cancer Screening:

  • According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, they recommend screening with low-dose CT scan in individuals who meet all of the below criteria:
    • Adults 50 – 80 years old
    • 20 pack-year smoking history (pack-year calculation: number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day x number of years the person has smoked)
    • Those who currently smoke OR have quite within the past 15 years.


  • Symptoms vary among different people. However, many don’t experience any symptoms until advanced stages of lung cancer

What Can You Do About Lung Cancer?

  • Do not start smoking
  • Quit if you smoke

There are many health benefits no matter what age you quit, how long you have smoked, or how much you have smoked.

Health Benefits of Quitting:

  • Within minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure improve
  • 24 – 48 Hours – Your nicotine levels in the body drops to zero and lungs start to clear mucus and debris
  • 1-12 Months – Your cough and breathing improves
  • 1 – 2 years – Your risk of heart attack decreases
  • 3 – 6 years – Your added risk of coronary artery disease decreases by half
  • 5 – 10 years – Your added risk of mouth and throat cancers decrease by half and your added risk of stroke decreases
  • 10 -15 years – Your added risk of lung cancer decreases by half
  • 15 years – Your risk of coronary heart disease decreases to be that of someone who does not smoke
  • 20 years – Your risk of mouth and throat cancers decreases to be that of someone who does not smoke

For help quitting, make an appointment with your NOAH provider, visit cdc.gov/quit, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW (784-8669), or text “QUIT” to 47848. We are here to help you!